For all the appeal of a city break with its dizzying bombardment of new flavours, places and inspirations to discover, or the blissful relaxation of a luxe resort stay, there comes a time when we all must heed the call of the wild.

Not convinced? Look beyond the possibilities of modern technology for a moment. Despite our smart, self-aware urban sophistication, we are but human – an animal species that lived, died, survived and thrived in the wilderness for hundreds of thousands of years… millions if we include our more primitive antecedents. The wild is our element, our habitat. Our true home.

Well, if that doesn’t get the blood coursing through your veins, as you scour the horizon for potential predators and reach for kindling to start a fire, then perhaps nothing will. More seriously, getting back to nature and exploring the natural environment is one of life’s universal pleasures. There is a reason why it makes people feel calmer, more grounded and more connected to the world around us.

For some, however, they can enjoy all of that while also testing their limits and developing new outdoor skills. To those hearty souls, we salute you and offer this article summarising a dozen extraordinary adventure travel ideas, in the hope that it will inspire your future expeditions.

Your Bucket List

Adventure travel can be a satisfying way to test your personal limits, whether physical or mental, but when it comes to adventure travel planning, it pays to do your research and share the load by accepting the most useful tips and advice. To kickstart your thinking, let us guide you through a gentle introduction to some of the most compelling options to consider.

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Your Environment: Deserts

Deserts represent a serious challenge for even experienced outdoor adventurers, and are an environment to be respected at all times. Their appeal, however, is also undeniable – irrespective of the difficulties they present. Take a desert trip and discover extraordinary wildlife, the starriest of skies and an experience that may just  transform you forever…

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Your Environment: Caves

Sometimes in life it pays to look down, and in the case of caves, to keep looking down until you’ve reached your subterranean goal, where you may discover cathedral-sized caverns as well as underground lakes, gorges and more. We highlight 18 examples that should be near the top of any self-respecting spelunker’s list.

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Your Environment: Waterfalls

With deserts and caves already ticked off our list, we move on to waterfalls, while also briefly pausing to apologise in case you’ve confused our humble article for a list of Indiana Jones filming locations. If you also suspect that the most spectacular waterfalls are likely to be congested tourist magnets, we concede that you may be right. However, we escape that peril by offering you a definitive list of lesser-known yet breathtaking waterfalls from across the globe, all of which are in scenic settings far away from any selfie-seeking throngs.

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Your Environment: Volcanoes

We continue our Indiana Jones location guide with… Oops, sorry, our mistake. If, like us, you have always been intrigued by the elemental power of volcanoes, then you may be curious to know that there are many sites which can be safely visited as long as you respect local advice and guidance to minimise any potential risks. We highlight 11 such extraordinary examples for you to consider when planning your next adventure.

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Your Pursuit: Hiking

After the more dramatic and elemental adventure travel options listed above, we take a gentle pause to consider a quieter and altogether calmer activity: hiking. While the simple act of placing one foot in front of the other (and then repeating the feat) might not seem too much of a challenge, the beauty of this pursuit is that you can calibrate the level of difficulty that best suits in terms of location, conditions, altitude, length of walk and so on. We present an intriguing list of 15 testing hikes to satisfy all hiking ambitions.

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Your Pursuit: Cycling

More and more of us are reverting to two wheels in order to benefit our health and do our bit for the environment. Vacations offer an even richer opportunity to do just that, with bikes taking you to locations not always accessible by car, as well as giving you a different perspective on your surroundings. We highlight ten distinctive cycling destinations and explain what makes them so special.

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Your Pursuit: Sea Stack Climbing

The most accomplished adventure travellers might already think that they have ticked off most of the boxes on their bucket list, leaving them simply with the option to do the same things in a different location. That needn’t be so, and sea stack climbing is a perfect example. If you’ve already tried climbing and bouldering, and are looking for a fresh challenge, we explain the appeal of this most unusual pursuit.

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Your Pursuit: Stargazing

One of the key advantages of adventure travel is, well, being outside. That means a continual connection to your environment, including the sky above you. At night this is a particular highlight, with the chance to see the heavens free of the glare of light pollution. We take dark sky lovers on the trip of a lifetime with the ultimate stargazing experience deep in the Atacama Desert.

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Your Destination: Mexico

Many adventure travellers prefer to focus on testing themselves with a variety of pursuits in a single location. We offer a special focus on Mexico for those experienced explorers as we list 15 remarkable destinations and challenges to test one’s limits. The other advantage is that you will be doing so in one of the world’s most scenic destinations, with ample opportunities for rest and relaxation after your more arduous outdoor exertions.

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Your Destination: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

While the accent on adventure travel is typically on the ‘adventure’, it needn’t be so. The travel aspect is equally important, and your choice of location will almost certainly dictate how rich your overall experience is. If your taste for adventure also means a fascination for local cultures around the world, then our list of 12 less familiar (and less crowded) UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites should inspire the scholar and explorer within you every bit as much as the pioneer and adventurer. 

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Your Destination: Surreal Landscapes

If you are saving your pennies and cents for a trip to space at some unknown point in the future, the good news is that there are still endless discoveries here on Earth to be enjoyed. While that surely goes without saying, we highlight 17 truly surreal landscapes that will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief – or packing your rucksack and heading to the airport…

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